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Health

Having good health is very different from only being not sick. - Seneca the Younger

Scientists have discussed the initial development of human evolution in terms of a 'quest for fire'. For at least as long, however, we have also been on a quest for health. Health is a state of well-being, soundness, and vigor for the organism as a whole. People speak of mental or physical health, but true health incorporates all aspects of being - mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional. Because of this, health can also be approached from any of these perspectives as well. Each effects and is interrelated with the others. Different ideologies, beliefs, and environments, led different groups of people to pursue health in very different ways throughout history.

With health, everything is a source of pleasure; without it, nothing else, whatever it may be is enjoyable... Health is by far the most important element in human happiness. - Arthur Schopenhauer

One of the earliest methodologies was herbalism. The fossilized remains of early humans have been found carrying pouches of herbs, some of which are still in use today. White willow bark has actually been developed into what we now call aspirin. Arrowroot stops bleeding and heals wounds (hence the name), and goldenseal kills infections on contact. These are just a few herbs that have stood the test of time. We use them today just as our ancestors did.

In ancient China, a study was made of how energy flows through the body and how the bodily systems are connected. This ultimately led to the development of acupuncture which has helped people's health for thousands of years. Energy meridians create an intricate system which involves every organ, and each organ relates to particular mental and emotional states. The entire system is interrelated and when understood thoroughly, allows the acupuncturist very specific means for enhancing health on many levels.

One of the most widespread practices was actually surgical. It involved either drilling a hole in the skull, or peeling back the scalp and scraping it. It was practiced as long ago as 6500 BC, and is still used in some remote areas today. Trephining has been employed to relieve everything from epileptic seizures, to migraines, to releasing the 'evil spirits' that caused the health crisis. Amazingly, not only did most of the patients survive, but the procedure was most often performed while the patient was awake!

One of the most shocking approaches for attaining health, however, is actually being practiced today, right here in North America. Many people have actually been persuaded by authority figures to attempt to poison themselves into being healthy. As illogical as this may sound, the entire practice has become a multi-billion dollar industry. This wealth creates influence which turns the entire process into a vicious cycle. People are led to believe that the pill is a panacea. Since each drug has the potential to cause innumerable other afflictions, this thereby necessitates additional pills, which themselves necessitate others, and on it goes ad nauseum (sometimes literally).

The odd bit is that in this quest for health, we have developed increasingly deleterious practices. Thousands of years ago, people relied on prayer, meditation, a healthy diet, and exercise. These simple, life affirming practices often led to long, healthy, vigorous lives. Today, however, we are expected to trust in poisons and knives with little evidence of their benefit.

In health the flesh is graced, the holy enters the world. - Wendell Berry

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